Flagstaff Girls Softball Little League Majors Advance in State Tournament | Local
ZACHARY BRADSHAW Special for the Daily Sun
The Flagstaff Girls Softball Little League Majors team advances to the Arizona District 1 tournament after a 4-0 win over Winslow.
The shutout win was marked by a terrific home plate performance from Joy Shafor, who struck out 12 and allowed just three hits in six innings.
The third inning, in particular, was one for the books, as the team scored two runs on three hits and stole three bases.
At home plate, every batter showed pro-level maturity, either paying attention to balls thrown outside the box or knowing when to swing on a pitch. As a result, Flagstaff reached base in each of the six innings. Only five batters struck out, while three batters reached on steps. The team had eight hits.
Tatum Alex, batting first, had a hit and a walk. Second-placed Phoebe Talley had two hits and scored two runs. Summer Rhodes, third in the batting order, tied Talley’s hits with two of her own. Fourth-placed Lucy Lanssens had three RBIs. Pitcher Shafor, who had a hit and an RBI, completed the first of the fearsome five.
People also read…
The performances of Molly Speer, Elizabeth Castruita, Aliyah Gabrys, Logan Clark and Rose Palmer cannot be understated, as they held on at home plate in the final inning, counting for two more hits and a walk.
Defensively, the team was like an iron curtain, beckoning ground after ground and dealing with flyouts.
In the top of the sixth, a Winslow batter drilled a fly ball to left center field with runners at second and third. Had the ball touched the ground, it likely would have scored two runs and marked the start of a Winslow comeback. But as soon as the ball left the Winslow player’s bat, center fielder Tayana Sherlock followed it as it spun quickly towards the back wall. Sherlock stretched his glove skyward, jumped a foot off the ground, and grabbed a snow cone to close the door to the game.
Flagstaff coaches and players immediately jumped up from their seats on the bench and stormed the field to hug and give Sherlock high-fives. The moment was electric.
Asked about the capture, Flagstaff head coach Justin Talley said he expected nothing less from Sherlock: “Tayana is my girlfriend. She’s playing there for a reason,” Talley said after the game. “I had no doubt she was catching it.”
“I couldn’t help but jump out of my seat,” added Flagstaff assistant coach Mike Rhodes. “Her (Sherlock’s) hips were already moving when that ball hit. She was absolutely ready for that moment.
Both coaches praised the efforts of the entire team as they advanced through the playoff competition.
“We’ve been training almost every day since the first of the month and they’ve been working hard,” Talley said. “It shows when they come to play the game.”
“The girls want to win, you know what I mean? Rhodes added. “They knew they had a tough night ahead of them, but they had every confidence in themselves and they believed in themselves tonight. They were ready to be here and they fought, and I couldn’t be prouder of that. ‘them.
The victory was impressive. Additionally, the tournament is designated for 12-year-old competition, but the Flagstaff team only has three 12-year-olds. The others are all 11 years old.
But facing older competitors does not affect players or coaches. They all have the confidence and belief that they will win the next game, then the next, then the next.
“The mindset is ‘I got it,'” said first baseman Rhodes, the assistant coach’s daughter. Rhodes sent a quote to the team’s group chat before the game, and the quote read, “A quiet bench is a losing bench. A quiet canoe is a losing canoe. A quiet team is a losing team. Communicate and be enthusiastic. Keep your energy high.
Rhodes said the quote helps her and her teammates understand what they’re trying to accomplish, which is having enough energy and intensity to get to the championship game. State. “Our team will get there,” she said. “We just have to believe.”
“When one of us is down, we keep clapping,” shortstop Alex said. “It lifted us up and that’s what I liked about the game. Our energy was always great.
Coach Rhodes said the staff values softball IQ and making good decisions during games. “Understanding the game itself is so crucial to success,” Rhodes said. “During practice, we will do first and third situations and how the receiver is going to react. We will put our runners there and give them signs to run or not to the next base.
Rhodes said the team’s hard work during practice got them to this stage of the competition. But more importantly, the team plays every game with a “one set at a time” mentality that helps them focus on the present.
“We don’t look at the next team or even the next round thinking, ‘What’s going to happen?'” Rhodes said. “We just play to win every set and as long as we do that we know we can win this.”
So what’s next for the team? A game against Silver Creek on Tuesday is the first step. The game takes place on the grounds of Silver Creek, near Show Low. If the team wins its next three games, it will travel to Cottonwood for the state championship game in July.
Ask Talley what the key to success is and he’ll tell you it’s having fun. He wants his players to focus on the game at hand, but more importantly he wants them to have a good time. He can often be caught yelling at his batters, “Ride it and have fun!”
“We’re going to savor this win and then go back to the grind on Tuesday,” Talley said. “But we will continue to play our game and have fun. Because this game is all about having fun.